Saturday, May 16, 2009

THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE WITH YOUR GENES ON


A friend of mine who lives in Windsor recently posted these photos, on Facebook, of a rather strange-look squirrel in her neighborhood. I was so intrigued by them I asked her if could post them here, so all you fellow Nature Nuts out there can have a look, and weigh in on what you think might being going on. Not long ago I did a couple of posts about leucism (partial albinism or pigment reduction) in birds and animals, and I've also seen some posts and photos on blogs I follow, but I don't think simple leucism can explain this little guy (or gal).



This isn't just a case of "washed-out" color like we normally see in leucistic critters. It's a totally different texture, too. There has to be some other kind of genetic mix-and-match going on, don't you think? And the division is certainly strange, almost like the squirrel is wearing wooly chaps!






















Thanks to Elaine Weeks, at Walkerville Publishing, Windsor, for the photos.

25 comments:

Ruth said...

That is the strangest squirrel I have ever seen! I hope it was reported to someone who might have an explanation for its appearance. I love your title and comparison to chaps.

Lin said...

to really know what's up we'd need to see its mom and papa/ looks genetic to me.

EcoRover said...

There are many strange & mysterious things under the sun. That is one reason I like the Enlightenment-era biologist Buffon's statement: "There are no species, only individuals."

Poetikat said...

Ha ha - We've got a few of them here. I think they're doing the equivalent of molting, like birds do. You should ask Squirrelmama - she'll know.
I love the comparison to the cowboys with the sheepskin chaps. Great!
The back-end shot of that one climbing the fence is terrific.

Kat

Indrani said...

Yes, that is strange.

Squirrel said...

I'm very impressed at her pix...and feel a bit sorry for that squirrel. the coloring makes his/her butt look big!

you know how people say, ---that can't be this, because they only look like/do /behave like that? ---well naturalist John Burroughs said that you cannot do that out in nature. Perfectly healthy skunks will come out in the daytime, an owl will make friends with a sparrow or a mouse and all sorts of "bizarre" things will occur. Squirrels will wear odd furs and raccoons will dance.
Yet people will still insist saying--impossible.

Sylvia K said...

That is without a doubt the strangest looking squirrel I've ever seen! Love the "chaps" comparison! Surely would love to see his parents! Have a great weekend, Deborah!

Naturegirl said...

Deborah! That is the wierdest thing I have ever seen!!!
OMG!! It sure does look like it's wearing chaps!!

Cloudia said...

What a wee stranger!
Aloha, Deborah. Thanks for your visits to my blog, they always make me smile.

VioletSky said...

I have seen black squirrels with brown fluffy tails, but never one quite like this.

bobbie said...

Very strange indeed. But I love your title!

Ribbon said...

Great photos!
I've just arrived here via anothers blog roll and I'm glad I did.

Looks to me like the squirrel's wearing the wrong trousers.
Simple mistake when getting dressed in the dark!

Love it...
best wishes
Ribbon

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Good Gosh, Deb... I've never seen a squirrel look like that. Actually there are many types of squirrels (like the black Squirrel) which I have never seen. We have the plain ole' gray squirrels here --and I don't pay much attention to them...

Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

SandyCarlson said...

A bald squirrel with chaps on? What a look.

Ruth said...

I am still intrigued by this photo and checked back to see if there were any answers. Black squirrels are variations of Grey squirrels;- they are not two different species. ...have not excluded the possibility of some photoshop work either. Then again, truth is often stranger than fiction.

squirrelmama said...

Deb, this is for sure unusual but....there is a reasonable and quite normal explanation. You're looking at nothing more complex than seasonal moult. We have quite a few squirrels doing that in our yard here in southeastern New York, and they are not so very different from this beautiful fellow. The reddish overlay you see down below (the part that looks like the western "chaps") is the winter coat. Squirrels moult from head to hindquarters in the spring, when their lighter coats emerge, and then in the autum, the reverse is true just as the thicker winter coat begins to come in. (You'll notice how much thicker the "chaps" are than the spring coat around the shoulder and head area).
What you have here is a black squirrel, of course, which is nothing more than a variant on the good old eastern gray squirrel (same squirrel, basically, just a different predominating tint in the fur). Here in NY our eastern grays are actually a mixture of brown and white and black fur, not a single gray strand among them! And we also have some black squirrels here, which are the same, with black predominating. However, we have as well several "cinnamon" squirrels in our yard (eastern grays with a predominant brown tint in the fur).
So this fellow is simply a black squirrel whose winter coat had more cinnamon/brown predominating, and now that spring is here, he is losing his pants and his spring coat - black - is coming in!!!
FANTASTIC PHOTOS

magiceye said...

strange but true...!!!

Deborah Godin said...

Big thanks to Squirrelmama (and all who commented, too!) for the explanation! Occam's Razor in action - “The simplest explanation for a phenomenon is most likely the correct explanation."

Poetikat said...

I was right, after all!

Kat

Shellmo said...

Looks like somebody shaved him up top! Never have seen anything like this!

Quiet Paths said...

This is definitely one of the weirdest things I have seen on the web so far this year. What on earth?? You almost think it would be packin' a six shooter. Move over Mr. Wayne here comes da Squirrel.

Rachel Fox said...

Excellent photos.
I wrote a poem about red squirrels (endangered here in Scotland) only this weekend! Squirrelmania...
x

Kevin said...

That is a very strange looking squirrel. It looks to me as though it just came out of a poodle grooming clinic.

Maybe it's something in the water! Scary! I'm sure seasonal moult would be what's happening but that's pretty boring.

Beth P. said...

That's hilarious! Somebody shaved this fellow and got distracted.

Skintone said...

Hi all! i took the photos of the squirrel that Deb posted and i just took some more of her a couple of days ago. I say her because when i looked closely at my new photos, i could see that she has squirrel breasts!! well, nipples at least.... so i would suspect that she has a litter of little squirrels tucked away in a tree somewhere. I would love to see what they look like because i'm quite convinced that this mama squirrel is not molting. I saw her last year and she looked exactly the same.
I sent Deb the new photos so i hope she posts them for you all soon.